After unloading and setting up shop in the rustic old house at the far end of the property, I begin to prep my equipment. Once my 16mm film is loaded and ready to go, I strap on the 40-plus-pound battery belt that the camera requires and look into the camera case for the cable to connect the belt to the camera. I dig through the big case, and after checking every nook of the case and everywhere else it could have fallen, I come to the realization that I’m without the rare and very necessary three-pin ARRI battery cable.After trying to call the school and anyone from my class who may be able to help, I’m left with no solution. The cable I need is locked inside my school for the long weekend and nobody can get it. Then my clever friend, Eric, who has come along to help out and watch us shoot, says he may be able to make a slightly different cable work. We drive to the only nearby town and check every possible electronics and hardware store, but to no avail. The only thing we end up with is a three-foot-long section of the thickest gauge wire we can find, two copper pieces side by side inside a plastic sheath. The gauge of the wire looks to be about the same as the diameter of the three-prong holes on the belt and the camera that the cable should have snapped into.
Back at the farm, within minutes Eric has MacGyver’d the section of wire into a two-prong cable and we begin trying to attach the belt to the camera with it. As he plugs the second prong into the battery belt, the camera motor cranks to life and I hear the unmistakable purr of a shutter opening and closing. Eric then fashions a couple of hooks that secure the cable to the belt itself and we’re able to get the cable to stay in place for the most part. My film is saved!
This experience taught me to always triple-check everything, especially when shooting in a remote location. Another valuable lesson is to think outside the box when looking for help for your micro-budget film crew. Without the help of my mechanically inclined friend who knew nothing about filmmaking, this short film never would have been salvaged.
Tyler Ippolito is an independent filmmaker and up-and-coming novelist and screenwriter with a background in automotive marketing.
Win A Sachtler Tripod And FSB 6 Fluid Head
Everyone who has spent time in video and film production has a funny tale or two about this life. Odd and quirky things happen to us and our colleagues that we all like to talk about after the shoot.
We know you have stories like these and we want you to share them with us and the HDVideoPro audience. And you don’t have to be a writer—we’ll help you flesh out your story. You’ll get more than just the satisfaction of seeing your name in print. If your story is featured in Production Takes, you’ll receive a camera support system, including the FSB 6 fluid head from Sachtler. The FSB 6 is designed for smaller HD camcorders weighing 2.2 to 13.2 pounds and offers low-mass cameras the same smooth pan-and-tilt movement typical of large cameras on heavy-duty fluid heads. You’ll receive the FSB 6 fluid head, plus a lightweight Sachtler tripod, spreader and padded carrying bag.
Your stories don’t have to be about HD video production, or even video production at all, just something that you can share about making videos and films in the production industry. And, remember, you don’t have to be a writer to do this.
Send your stories to [email protected] with the subject line Production Takes, or mail your stories to HDVideoPro, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025 (mark the outside of the envelope HDVP Production Takes).